- In accordance with President-elect Lincoln's influence, United States Senate Committee of Thirteen rejects the Crittenden Compromise/1860
- South Carolina commissioners leave for Washington to arrange for the transfer of US property to the Palmetto Republic/1860
- Alabama elects delegates to a state convention to consider secession to convene January 7, 1861./1860
- [SC SECESSION CONVENTION] The Convention in Charleston adopts the Declaration of the Immediate Causes, a justification for Secession based in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the compact theory of federalism. SC Governor Francis W. Pickens proclaims independence, freedom, and sovereignty for South Carolina/1860
|Christopher G. Memminger|
In his “Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina,” Christopher Memminger revisits the original American concept of self-government and restated that whenever any “form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government.” Note that though reference is made below to “anti-slavery” feeling in the North, it must be remembered that radical Republican doctrine held that African slavery must be kept within the borders of the South, not that the slaves must be freed. Republicans were a white supremacy party and the territories were for white settlers alone. ---Bernhard Thuersam, Director, Cape Fear Historical Institute
“Dr. James Henley Thornwell…[stated] immediately after secession…”The real cause of the intense excitement of the South, is not in vain dreams of national glory in a separate confederacy…; it is in the profound conviction that the Constitution…has been virtually repealed; that the new Government has assumed a new and dangerous attitude…”
In South Carolina [this] idea was repeatedly expressed in the secession period. For example, [Robert Barnwell] Rhett in a speech of November 20 said: We are two peoples, essentially different in all that makes a people.” [D.F.] Jamison in his opening speech to the [secession] convention said there was “no common bond of sympathy or interest between the North and South.”
The “Declaration of Immediate Causes,” after defending the right of secession under the compact theory of the Union, justified the exercise of that right almost entirely on the point that Northern States had infringed and abrogated that compact by refusal to abide by their constitutional obligations…When [the Northern sectional] President should gain control of the government, constitutional guarantees would no longer exist, equal rights would have been lost, the power of self-government and self-protection would have disappeared, and the government would have become the enemy. Moreover, all hope of remedy was rendered in vain by the fact that the North had “invested a great political error with the sanctions of a more erroneous religious belief.”
Rhett…held that the one great evil from which all others had flowed was the overthrow of the Constitution of the United States. The tariff, unequal distributions of appropriations, and attacks on slavery, were only manifestations of a broken faith and a constitution destroyed through construction for Northern aggrandizement at the expense of a weaker South. The sections had grown apart; all identity of feeling, interest, and institutions were gone; they were divided between slaveholding and non-slaveholding, between agricultural and manufacturing and commercial States; their institutions and industrial pursuits had made them totally different peoples. The South was unsafe under a government controlled by a sectional anti-slavery party…”
The well-nigh complete unity after secession is no more striking than the universal belief that the cause was just…[and belief] that the future of republican government was involved in the struggle…Secession was endorsed by the synod of the Presbyterian church and by the annual conference of the Methodists. One need not question the sincerity of the legislature for appointing on the eve of secession a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer.”
Source: Charles Edward Cauthen, South Carolina Goes to War, 1860-1865 (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1950), 72-78.
FROM THE DECLARATION OF THE IMMEDIATE CAUSES:
"In the year 1765, that portion of the British Empire embracing Great Britain, undertook to make laws for the government of that portion composed of the thirteen American Colonies. A struggle for the right of self-government ensued, which resulted, on the 4th of July, 1776, in a Declaration, by the Colonies, "that they are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do."
"They further solemnly declared that whenever any "form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government." Deeming the Government of Great Britain to have become destructive of these ends, they declared that the Colonies "are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."…
"Thus were established the two great principles asserted by the Colonies, namely: the right of a State to govern itself; and the right of a people to abolish a Government when it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was instituted. And concurrent with the establishment of these principles, was the fact, that each Colony became and was recognized by the mother Country a FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATE. "In 1787, Deputies were appointed by the States to revise the Articles of Confederation, and on 17th September, 1787, these Deputies recommended for the adoption of the States, the Articles of Union, known as the Constitution of the United States….
"We hold that the Government thus established is subject to the two great principles asserted in the Declaration of Independence; and we hold further, that the mode of its formation subjects it to a third fundamental principle, namely: the law of compact. We maintain that in every compact between two or more parties, the obligation is mutual; that the failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement, entirely releases the obligation of the other; and that where no arbiter is provided, each party is remitted to his own judgment to determine the fact of failure, with all its consequences.
"We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do."
Source: J.A. May & J.R. Faunt, South Carolina Secedes (University of South Carolina Press, 1960), 76-81.